Use of funds from allowance of the deduction at source granted to research institutions (Moerman Act)
Interdisciplinary research topics
In the context of the Research lever of the Moerman Act, since 2008 CRA-W has been working on four projects based on innovative topics involving several research departments.
PESTEAUX: Development of a geographical information system, at plot scale, for assessment of the water pollution risk from pesticide use
Partners: Three CRA-W departments and FUSAGx
The novelty of this system is that it will generate maps enabling the risks of diffuse transfer of plant protection products to water resources to be identified at plot level. Plots will be classified according to the potential contamination risk they present to water. This risk will be assessed from a study of three ‘layers' of information: anthropic pressure, plot characteristics and climate. A risk value will be assigned to each plot on the basis of a decision-making grid taking into account the key factors of these information layers and their relative significance. This plot-based classification will enable at-risk areas to be mapped and plots of farm land which on their own could cause wider-scale pollution to be targeted. This system can be used in many ways to predict, assess and explain pollution risks. Potential users will therefore be Wallonia's public administration, federal public services (Public Health), etc.
BIOETHA2: Contribution to development of the second generation bioethanol production sector
Partners: Five CRA-W departments and SEED-ULg
The efficiency of biofuel production from energy plants is less than 50% if only the parts of the plant rich in oils and/or carbohydrates are used. An alternative is to utilise the whole plant, with the aim of achieving nearly 70% efficiency. As well as creating benchmarks in terms of crops and the eco-balances of energy plants such as Miscanthus, switchgrass and energy maize and developing a methodology for hydrolysis and characterisation of their cell walls, this project will use the methods provided by prospective analysis and multicriteria analysis to describe the future role of these second generation biofuel crops in Wallonia.
MIMOSA: Analysis of methods for integrating multi-sensor modelling and satellite information techniques into decision support systems
Partners: Three CRA-W departments and two UCL units
The many challenges facing agriculture and farm of tomorrow are such that they increasingly require the setting up and use of decision support systems that favour integrated crop management at farm or territory level. Ideally, such tools should be based on a number of information sources including satellite imagery, which has become an essential component. Taking into account recent improvements in earth observation at both technical (spatial, temporal and spectral resolution) and methodological level (image analysis, modelling, etc.), the MIMOSA project has three main aims:
(i) To improve forage area monitoring capacity by integrating grassland growth data supplied by a multi-sensor, multi-model approach into the OptiMAE decision support system developed by CRA-W.
(ii) To identify the decision-making rules, in terms of forage resource management on grazing farms, and implement them in the OptiMAE model to facilitate grassland management and to quantify and qualify available winter supplies.
(iii) To link satellite information with the nitrogen status of potato and winter wheat crops and to integrate it into decision support systems studied at CRA-W and applied in Wallonia for crop nitrogen fertilisation management.
POMINNO: Research into rapid selection methods for new apple varieties of differentiated quality suitable for sustainable agriculture
Partners: Three CRA-W departments, FUSAGx and INRA
Belgium's apple market is dominated by six varieties (Jonagold and its mutants account for 70% of the market). This makes apples more susceptible to diseases, especially scab. Research indicates that using varieties less susceptible to disease is the only way to cut down the costs in connection with plant protection products. Fruit growers must be offered new commercial varieties for renewal and diversification of the present range of varieties. One aim of the project is to innovate in the selection of new resistance genes in parents and their progeny using molecular biology techniques for identification. New rapid, non-destructive methods could also be developed (spectroscopy, chromatography, etc.). A further aim of the project is to develop the health aspects of the apple (antioxidant, Vitamin C, specific sugars, etc.) by selecting dietary and nutritional properties, promoting them and integrating them into new commercial concepts.